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What are the options for open-source licensing of works of publication generated from code? I made some printable technical charts (basically application-specific graph papers) a couple of years ago; they are generated from TeX source but the output is not a computer program. I’d like to publish them but I’m not sure there is enough of a market to support making books or notepads of them for sale, so it seems like releasing the PDFs and/or TeX source for individuals to print on their own is an option.

What licenses are suitable to cover the source and produced work? One concern I have (perhaps irrationally) is that someone could take the source or output and incorporate them into a textbook or such without consideration. How can I protect against that?


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    Use one of the Creative Commons licenses. Licensing non-code text is similar to licensing documentation and there are other licenses meant to be used in such situations as well (I remember there was something from GNU), but I would go with CC as these are pretty clear and popular enough, that these shouldn’t cause much problems.

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      If I understand: you have some TeX documents which when passed through the TeX compiler produces PDFs. You want people to have both the TeX source and PDFs for personal enjoyment but they should not redistribute the same for profit. Can they modify and redistribute for profit? Can they distribute without profit? Can they distribute as part of a larger package of things?

      It seems to me that this is just copyrighted work (copyright is automatic with publication in the US) with copyright retained. You can remind people of this by putting a copyright notice along with your intent that you are not charging for personal enjoyment and use of these creations.

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        You want people to have both the TeX source and PDFs for personal enjoyment but they should not redistribute the same for profit.

        Sure. After reading about Creative Commons licenses, the closest CC license is probably CC BY-NC-ND (the most restrictive), but it goes too far in terms of restricting use. The printed documents are basically tools, and if someone uses them in the advancement of a commercial project that is ok. What I want to reserve is the right to sell the printed form.

        I understand copyright protection automatically applies with publication, but any grant beyond “All rights reserved” is a kind of license, and I’m wary of writing my own.

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        Think of it like this: your prose, artwork, and other non-code things should almost certainly be Creative Commons or GFDL, and nearly always the former. See Wikipedia’s Comparison of GFDL and CC BY-SA.

        If there’s software that generates prose or artwork, or a build system that glues it all together, you could license that differently and according to your perspectives, values, and goals. You can probably get away with putting the whole thing under CC if the code is just supporting the work and isn’t very valuable outside of it. See Why is CC BY-SA discouraged for code? for more, and really the best answer is there: CC-BY-SA 4.0 is one-way compatible with GPLv3.